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Yet death then would the like mishaps forestall, Into the which hereafter thou maist happen fall.
“Why then doest thou, O man of sin, desire
To draw thy dayes forth to their last degree?
Is not the measure of thy sinfull hire
High heaped up with huge iniquitee,
Against the day of wrath, to burden thee?
Is not enough, that to this lady mild
Thou falsed hast thy faith with periuree,
And sold thy selfe to serve Duessa vild,
With whom in all abuse thou hast thy selfe defild ?
“Is not he iust, that all this doth behold
From highest Heven, and beares an equall eie ?
Shall he thy sins up in his knowledge fold,
And guilty be of thine impietie?
Is not his law, Let every sinner die,
Die shall all flesh? What then must needs be donne,
Is it not better to doe willinglie,
Then linger till the glas be all out ronne ?
Death is the end of woes: die soone, O Faries sonne.”
The knight was much enmoved with his speach,
That as a swords poynt through his hart did perse,
And in his conscience made a secrete breach,
Well knowing trew all that he did reherse,
And to his fresh remembraunce did reverse
The ugly vew of his deformed crimes ;
That all his manly powres it did disperse,
As he were charmed with enchaunted rimes ;
That oftentimes he quakt, and fainted oftentimes.
In which amazement when the miscreaunt
Perceived him to waver weake and fraile,
Whiles trembling horror did his conscience daunt,
And hellish anguish did his soule assaile;
To drive him to despaire, and quite to quaile,
Hee shewd him painted in a table plaine
The damned ghosts, that doe in torments waile,
And thousand feends, that doe them endlesse paine
With fire and brimstone, which for ever shall re-
The sight whereof so thoroughly him dismaid,
That nought but death before his eies he saw,
And ever burning wrath before him laid,
By righteous sentence of th' Almighties law.
Then gan the villein him to overcraw,
And brought unto him swords, ropes, poison, fire,
And all that might him to perdition draw;
And bad him choose, what death he would desire :
For death was dew to him, that had provokt Gods
But, whenas none of them he saw him take,
He to him raught a dagger sharpe and keene,
And gave it him in hand : his hand did quake
And tremble like a leafe of aspin greene,
And troubled blood through his pale face was seene
To come and goe, with tidings from the heart,
As it a ronning messenger had beene.
At last, resolv'd to work his finall smart,
He lifted up his hand, that backe againe did start.
Which whenas Una saw, through every vaine
The crudled cold ran to her well of life,
As in a swowne: but, soone reliev'd againe,
Out of his hand she snatcht the cursed knife,
And threw it to the ground, enraged rife,
And to him said; “ Fie, fie, faint hearted knight,
What meanest thou by this reprochfull strife ?
In this the battaile, which thou vauntst to fight
With that fire-mouthed dragon, horrible and bright?
“Come; come away, fraile, feeble, fleshly wight,
Ne let vaine words bewitch thy manly hart,
Ne divelish thoughts dismay thy constant spright :
In heavenly mercies hast thou not a part?
Why shouldst thou then despeire, that chosen art?
Where iustice growes, there grows eke greater
The which doth quench the end of hellish smart,
And that accurst hand-writing doth deface:
Arise, sir Knight; arise, and leave this cursed place."
So up he rose,
and thence amounted streight, Which when the carle beheld, and saw his guest Would safe depart, for all his subtile sleight; He chose an halter from among the rest, And with it hong himselfe, unbid, unblest. But death he could not worke himselfe thereby; For thousand times he so himselfe had drest, Yet nathëlesse it could not doe him die, Till he should die his last, that is, eternally,
What man is he, that boasts of Aeshly might
And vaine assurance of mortality,
Which, all so soone as it doth come to fight
Against spirituall foes, yields by and by,
Or from the fielde most cowardly doth fly!
Ne let the man ascribe it to his skill,
That thorough grace hath gained victory:
If any strength we have, it is to ill;
But all the good is Gods, both power and eke will.
By that which lately hapned, Una saw
That this her knight was feeble, and too faint;
And all his sinewes woxen weake and raw,
Through long enprisonment, and hard constraint,
Which he endured in his late restraint,
That yet he was unfit for bloody fight.
Therefore to cherish him with diets daint,
She cast to bring him, where he chearen might,
Till he recovered had his late decayed plight.
There was an auncient house not far away,
Renownd throughout the world for sacred lore
And pure unspotted life : so well, they say,
It governd was, and guided evermore,
Through wisecome of a matrone grave and hore ;
Whose onely ioy was to relieve the needes
Of wretched soules, and helpe the helpelesse pore :
All night she spent in bidding of her bedes,
And all the day in doing good and godly deedes.
Dame Cælia men did her call, as thought
From Heaven to come, or thether to arise ;
The mother of three daughters, well upbrought
In goodly thewes, and godly exercise :
The eldest two, most sober, chast, and wise,
Fidelia and Speranza, virgins were ;
Though spousd, yet wanting wedlocks solemnize;
But faire Charissa to a lovely fere
Was lincked, and by him had many pledges dere.
Arrived there, the dore they find fast lockt;
For it was warely watched night and day,
For feare of many foes; but, when they knockt,
The porter opened unto them streight way.
He was an aged syre, all hory gray,
With lookes full lowly cast, and gate full slow,
Wont on a staffe his feeble steps to stay,
Hight Humilta. They passe in, stouping low;
For streight and narrow was the way which he did
Each goodly thing is hardest to begin ;
But, entred in, a spatious court they see,
Both plainı and pleasaunt to be walked in ;
Where them does meete a francklin faire and free,
And entrtains with comely courteous glee;
His name was Zele, that him right well became :
For in his speaches and behaveour hee